Deadly ash dieback suspected to have hit Hertfordshire trees

PUBLISHED: 16:30 31 October 2012

Leaves showing the symptoms of ash die back (Picture: Woodland Trust)

Leaves showing the symptoms of ash die back (Picture: Woodland Trust)

Archant

A DEADLY tree disease branded as serious as the foot-and-mouth outbreak is feared to have set root in Welwyn Hatfield and Potters Bar.

Ash dieback (Chalara Fraxinea): the facts

• The situation is already dire in continental Europe with some 90 per cent of ash trees in Demark and 80 per cent of ash stands in Poland affected and it is becoming widespread throughout central Europe. The disease has been observed to spread upto 20-30km (12 to 18 miles) a year once established.

• A high risk pathway for the disease entering the UK is on imported ash saplings from areas of Europe. The Woodland Trust has called for an immediate ban on importing ash trees.

• The Woodland Trust vowed it will no longer plant imported ash trees and has taken the decision not to plant ash on the majority of its estate or advocate its planting by others this year.

• It is estimated that 30 per cent of the UK wooded landscape is made up of ash which is found across woodlands, parks and hedgerows.

(Adapted from information supplied by the Woodland Trust)

Conservation charity The Woodland Trust fears the fast-spreading Chalara Fraxinea fungus has been detected in the county.

But when asked where exactly the affected site was, the conservation charity remained tight-lipped.

A spokeswoman told the Wewlyn Hatfield Times: “We can’t actually say which area [it is].

“We’re not at liberty to say at the moment, it’s too early and we’re still investigating.”

Andrew Sharkey, head of woodland management for the Woodland Trust, called for emergency measures to be put in place, likening the outbreak to foot and mouth disease in terms of its importance.

He added: “Losing ash within the UK landscape would have serious implications to both the ecology, culture and landscape of our countryside.

“This is yet another example of why the protection of our native trees, natural resources and eco-systems needs to be at the top of the agenda.”

He also warned: “The occurrence of tree diseases in the UK is becoming far too frequent and once they are established we are often powerless to act.”

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